Magination Pets–and Their Real-Life Counterparts

Did you know that June is National Pet Adoption Month? If you’re thinking of adopting a new furry friend, it’s a good time to visit a shelter or rescue organization.

In honor of National Pet Adoption Month, here is a look at some of our favorite pets who appear in Magination Press books…and the real cats, dogs, and birds who inspired them.

LTFG cat

Snuggling with a cat: one sure-fire way to improve your mood.

This snuggly cat first appeared in Learning to Feel Good and Stay Cool, written by Judith Glasser and Kathleen Nadeau, and illustrated by Charlie Beyl. He also appears in the next book in the series, Learning to Be Kind and Understand Differences, by Judith Glasser and Jill Menkes Kushner, illustrated by Charlie Beyl. He is partially modeled after author Judith Glasser’s daughter’s cat:

Occifer Roo

Ocifer Roo

She went by many names, among them Ocifer Roo and Ocilotsadots–so named because she was an ocicat, resembling an ocelot. She got the Roo part of her name because she liked to stand up on her hind legs, like a mini kangaroo!

Another inspiration was illustrator Charlie Beyl’s in-laws’ cat, Wendel. Look at that face!



Eli’s Lie-o-Meter, written by Sandra Levins and illustrated by Jeff Ebbeler, features a pup named Duffy. This character was inspired by two dogs that author Sandra Levins’s family owned when she was growing up: Duffy and Duffy Too (who was adopted after Duffy died).

Eli LOM Duffy

illustrated Duffy

While she was working on Eli’s Lie-o-Meter, Sandra was dogless, but seeing the illustrations inspired her to go to the animal shelter and adopt her family’s dog, Duffy! (Duffy is a wire-haired terrier.)

Duffy Too

Real-life Duffy

Lots of MP pets are represented in There’s a Cat in Our Class!, written by Jeanie Franz Ransom and illustrated by Bryan Langdo.

Here’s Tanner the dog with his new classmate, Samantha:

Samantha and Tanner

Samantha and Tanner

Tanner was modeled after MP director Kristine Enderle’s dog, Charlie:



And Samantha was loosely modeled after my own cat, Lucy (aka Lucy Goose):



Author Jeanie Franz Ransom’s dogs also make an appearance! Her collie, Sadie, served as a model for the character Holly, though their coloring is different:



Holly and Samantha


And her sheltie, Nemo, was the model for the class’s teacher, Miss Biscuit. At the time Jeanie sent us pictures, Sadie was about three or four months old, and Nemo was almost nine. Jeanie said she knew Nemo was too old to be one of the students, but after Bryan saw the pictures, he said that Nemo would make a great Miss Biscuit! (We agree!)



Miss Biscuit

Miss Biscuit

There is also a reference to Bryan Langdo’s dog, Walker! His family got Walker around the time Bryan was starting to illustrate There’s a Cat in Our Class.

Walker (003)


Walker’s tail makes an appearance at the bottom of page 2 (his tail is the one on the right). Now his tail is fluffy, but when he was a puppy, it had short hair except for the very end, where some of the white hairs were longer and wavy, like the illustration.

Walkers tail

Walker makes an appearance

And, SPOILER ALERT: The class gets another new student at the end of the story:

Miss Biscuit and new student

Miss Biscuit’s new student

And the new student is based off of MP editor Katie Ten Hagen’s beautiful bird, Keuka:



The bird in the book turned into a sulfur crested cockatoo, but Keuka is a cockatiel, a much smaller, quieter, cousin of cockatoos. Keuka is 9 years old, and will be 10 in November.

Thanks to all of our furry and feathered friends for inspiring us!


2 thoughts on “Magination Pets–and Their Real-Life Counterparts

  1. Patti

    Wonderful, Sarah! Animals add so much to children’s literature and to children’s lives. Lucy is a beautiful cat!


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